Monday, October 5, 2015

Suite Night Awards - 2015

We've been fortunate enough to have Starwood SPG Platinum status for the past few years by reaching 50 nights each year. Along with that, we receive 10 Suite Night Awards (SNAs) that we can use to express preference for when we really want those upgrades to suites.

A quick recap of how the SNAs work. For each night of your reservation, you apply 1 SNA. You need to have enough SNAs to cover your entire reservation. Then you click on the types of suites you'd be willing to accept for the award.

It doesn't guarantee you the suite, but just lets Starwood (corporate) know that you're willing to use your SNAs to express preference that you really want an upgrade here (versus other stays where it's less compelling). For example, we'd much rather get a suite upgrade for our 5-night family vacation at the Westin Costa Navarino resort where we'll spend most of our time on the property. And we're pretty indifferent about upgrades for a 1-night stay at the Sheraton Salt Lake City when it's just my father on a work trip.

Then 5 days before your check-in date, the computer at Starwoods (corporate) will search the available room inventory. If there are suites available for sale, then the computer will upgrade you into that suite.

The reason that's important is because it takes the complimentary upgrade decision out of the hands of the hotel front desk - where inconsistent staff training can play be a bigger factor than it should. Candidly, that individual hotel property may not even want to upgrade you (even when suites are clearly available), but Starwood (corporate) does, because that elite benefit fosters stronger brand loyalty to the overall system.

We've had great luck using these SNAs over the past few years, most recently Le Meridien Philadelphia (Dec 2014), Hotel Grande Bretagne (July 2014), St Regis Grande Rome (July 2014), W New Orleans (May 2014), W Vieques (Dec 2013) and Westin Memphis (Oct 2013).

So far in 2015, we haven't applied any SNAs to our bookings as most of them were cheap one night stays at Four Points or Aloft hotels where having extra space isn't as beneficial.

But this upcoming Columbus Day weekend trip to Scottsdale, Arizona will be a true vacation. We plan on doing nothing but relaxing on the property and enjoying the lazy river in 93 degree desert heat.

We were very happy that 5 nights out, we received the "Your Room Has Been Upgraded" email, moving us from a standard 426 sq ft Traditional Room... a massive 854 sq ft Parlor King suite with a separate livingroom and a private balcony. That suite would have cost about $594+/night had we booked it directly with cash.

We still had a bunch of SNAs that were set to expire on December 31, 2015, so we applied them on some upcoming reservations at the Westin Chicago Northwest (Halloween) and the Equinox Resort in Vermont (Christmas). Hopefully those will clear as well and we can enjoy some extra space for those holiday trips. Well done, Starwood. A+ for you.

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